Sunday, 27 January 2013

British Weather and British Birds

The sun was shining and it was considerably warmer than it has been for more than a week (about 8°) so we were really pleased to go to the allotment to do the RSPB Birdwatch.
These are our figures:
  •   Robin: 1
  •   Magpie: 1
  •   Pigeon: 3
  •   Rook: 10
  •   Chaffinch: 3
  •   Blue Tit: 1
  •   Great Tit: 1
I was disappointed that there wasn't much birdlife around ... the blackbirds didn't show up and we sometimes have a whole flock of long-tailed tits in the hedge but they were a no-show too.

We did a bit of digging and tidying while we were there. Jamie dug the parsnip plot and dug up the rotten parsnips - which were all we had to show of the ones we sowed last year. He then added a bit of the 6X compost and dug it in - this is where the peas/mangetout are going this year.
I cleared weeds from the plot where purple Congo potatoes had re-grown. I found some reasonable tubers which I brought home. We're a bit concerned that it may not be too obvious whether they're blighty (because of their dark colour), but will take a look.
It's still too wet for proper digging - can't step on the soil without taking more home than we leave behind!

We decided to pick our leeks and sprouts just as it started to spot with rain. Two minutes later there was torrential rain, hail and strong winds so we had to run to the container for cover! On returning to the plot to return the leek cage to its proper place we found this...
...a broken leek cage and a broken sprout cage! Well, it was very strong wind!!
We covered them as best we could and went home wet, cold and a little bit more miserable than we had been 15 minutes earlier!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Horticultural Channel & Big Garden Birdwatch

The Horticultural Channel is an online gardening channel, based on an allotment. The weekly short programme is entertaining and informative. In episode 3 of the new series of Sean's Allotment Garden Sean used some of the footage of the Marsh Lane snow video from my recent post.

It may make Marsh Lane plotholders a bit jealous when you see all the sheds and greenhouses that Sean's allotment has - we're not allowed any structures on Marsh Lane which I think is a shame. It would be great to get started a bit earlier and a shed, aahh, a shed - would so love to have a shed for storage and for sitting in when it gets rainy (rather than having to dash up to the communal container!)

The episode also includes information for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch - we intend to do some bird counting on the allotment tomorrow...

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Sign the National Allotment Petition

The introduction of this strategy would really help those of us who’s allotments are owned by private landlords.

Our Council is due to renew the lease next year - it expires in April 2014 - and we’re getting very concerned that the Council don’t appreciate the urgency of getting the renewal sorted out sooner rather than later…

Myself and the rest of our committee are trying their best but it would be so much better to have weightier support...

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow Day!!

The forecasters were right! It started snowing at about 6pm yesterday and is still snowing - amazing!
I set off for work but after taking about about an hour to go 8 miles decided not to attempt the A34 so headed back home.

After warming up a bit and piling on some extra layers we ventured out into the beautiful, quiet and white Hungerford. We walked to the allotment via Freemans Marsh as it's such a pretty route and even more so when it's covered in so much snow!
No-one else had been on the site so it looked amazing. Jamie put some cheese and nuts out for the robin but we didn't see him. We saw terns and magpies over the allotment and two egret and swans amongst the birdlife on the marsh.
The snow continued to fall all the while we were there so we were happy to have a hot chocolate in the container and then I took the little video. I really must remember to move more slowly when filming - sorry if it makes you travel sick!


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Frosty and Cold

Jamie visited the plot to take some compost up and get a spade, as snow (and lots of it) has been forecast for tomorrow. The forecasters may be right - it's snowing as I type this.

It was a bit frosty and cold. The minimum temperature had been -5° with a maximum of 4°. The compost was frozen - hopefully the worms were snuggled in the warm centre but the slugs weren't!
All the while he was there he was being watched by a kestrel - a very fluffy kestrel. Apologies for shakey pic but Jamie was chilly :-)

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Another Day; Another Load of Manure

We couldn't resist going back to Hilliers and this visit we bought 5 bags of Country Natural composted stable manure - all organic. We also picked up another free bag of grape hyacinth bulbs so I've planted all of them next to our seating area. It may be a bit late for them to do much this Spring, but what have we got to lose?
That should keep our spuds, raspberries and rhubarb happy - Jamie already surrounded the rhubarb with some today. Our rhubarb is just poking out from under the ground but is still under its protective cover. Other people on site have rhubarb which has grown substantially more than ours, but we did only plant ours in July.
The snow warnings continue but it was a bright, cold day today (about 6° with still a minimum of only zero). Cleaning off the veg in (literally) icy is water is not nice! Malcolm kindly gave us some lovely parsnips for tonight's dinner and I've got soup planned for lunches. And Jamie picked some sprouts and leeks.
We did a bit of plot planning and then had to escape the chill. Really need to go through our seeds and do a real plan - maybe one evening this week...

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New Shoots in the New Year!

We had a quick visit to the plot today - first visit this year! The weather has been so awful. There have been a couple of days in the last week when it didn't rain but the site is still pretty saturated. And today we had a few flakes of snow amongst the rain - it's meant to go wintry over the next few days. It was 4° whilst we were on the plot and the minimum this year has been 0° but apart from this weekend it's been incredibly mild, more like 8° to 10° day and night! Crazy!

Had to blur the surround so that the shoot actually stood out!
We were very pleased that our garlic has finally sprouted. They're a bit tricky to spot but there were at least 8 shoots - they were planted on 21st October!

The actual reason we went to the plot was to drop off some Countrycare Mushroom Compost and 6X Natural Fertiliser. We're thinking that the ground will need plenty of added nutrients this year because of all the rain washing away last years. We shopped at Hilliers Garden Centre - it was a bit of a bargain as they've got a 20% sale for their gardening club members at the moment and we also got a free bag of grape hyacinth bulbs!
The bags of compost will be stored on top of the sprout plot until it's time to dig it - this keeps the ground compacted which sprouts like. (Although at the moment the bags may just sink into the mud!!)

Monday, 7 January 2013

New Wildlife Blog

Since having the allotment our interest in the various wildlife that we've encountered has increased. Naturally, once you start noticing the different beasties it's just a small step to investigating further...
As a result I have created a new blog about the wildlife on the Marsh Lane site (not only, but mostly, on our plots). The blog contains photos and information about the creatures we're living alongside. I have identified what I can and include links to some of the brilliant sites which have proved invaluable in trying to work out how I should feel about seeing some of the creatures!
I'll continue to mention wildlife in this main Plot7 blog but Plot7Wildlife will have more details and photos.
Pay a visit, follow, link and comment as you see fit :-) I welcome any comments, advice or corrections!